CHRISTIAN COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - The Missouri Department of Conservation said conservation staff had to humanely euthanize a 250 pound black bear on Monday, July 20.
MDC agents say the healthy, adult male bear had become an ongoing nuisance and threat to a homeowner in Christian County. They say someone in the area had been feeding the animal.
The homeowner first contacted MDC staff to report the bear and told them she had not fed it. She then followed advice from the MDC to remove any potential food sources for the animal, such as taking down bird feeders, keeping dog food inside and keeping trash in closed containers and a secured building.
The bear continued to visit her home in search of food. The family tried to drive the bear away before, but it kept returning and unfortunately, even began looking for food at the neighbor's home.
On June 20, MDC staff captured the bear in a large cape trap place in the homeowner's yard.
They noted that the bear was not very agitated toward them while in the trap. This was not a good sign because it indicated that the bear had lost its fear of humans.
MDC staff confirmed that the bear had been ear-tagged in another part of Christian County as a yearling in 2012, and was among several bears that were previously fed by another homeowner.
According to MDC, the bear could not be relocated to a more remote location because once a bear associates people with food, it will continue to look for food associated with people. This often leads to additional conflicts with people, which is what happened in this situation.
The staff removed the trapped bear from the homeowner's property and then euthanized the animal using sedative and lethal drug injections, similar to how pets are often "put to sleep."
They then took the bear to the Department's Conservation Research Center in Columbia where the MDC wildlife veterinarian will examine it to further assess the bear's condition.
"A fed bear is a dead bear"
The Conservation Department strongly encourages people not to feed bears or make food available to them. Feeding bears makes the animal lose their fear of being around people and usually results in the bears becoming nuisance animals. As in this situation, they say a fed bear becomes a dead bear.
MDC offers the following tips to avoid conflicts with black bears:
- Do not feed birds and other wildlife from early spring through late fall, especially in rural areas. This often attracts bears. Bears are much less active during the winter, when supplemental feeding is more important for birds.
- Keep pet food and live stock feed inside secure containers and buildings. The same is true for barbecue grills and other items that smell like food.
- Trash should be kept in secured containers and buildings and put out as close to pick-up time as possible to minimize exposure to hungry bears.
- Campers and floaters should keep campsites clean for food and items that smell like food, pack and keep food in closed containers, place the food containers in secure locations away from the primary campsites, and dispose of garbage immediately.
- Keep bears wild by making encounters with humans a negative experience for the bear. If a bear approaches, scare it away by making loud noises and throwing objects such as rocks at it to help enforce its natural fear of people.
- For problems with a nuisance bear, contact the nearest MDC office or local conservation agent.
For more information on dealing with nuisance bears, you can click here to visit the MDC website.